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Deadman's Bluff: A Novel (Englisch) Taschenbuch – 30. Mai 2006


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James Swain, the bestselling author of Grift Sense, Funny Money, Sucker Bet, Loaded Dice, Mr. Lucky, and Deadman’s Poker, is also an authority on crooked gambling and casino scams. He is the winner of the prestigious Prix Calibre 38. He lives in Odessa, Florida, with his wife, Laura, and is currently at work on his next Tony Valentine novel. Visit the author’s website at www.jimswain.com.

Leseprobe. Abdruck erfolgt mit freundlicher Genehmigung der Rechteinhaber. Alle Rechte vorbehalten.

1

“I win,” Rufus Steele said. Tony Valentine could not believe his eyes. Steele, a seventy-year-old, whiskey-drinking Texas gambler, had just outrun a racehorse named Greased Lightning in the hundred-yard dash. The race had taken place on the manicured football field of the University of Nevada, the pulsating neon of the Las Vegas strip electrifying the night sky.

Valentine stood in the end zone with a mob of gamblers, many of whom had bet against Rufus. The gamblers were competing in the World Poker Showdown, the world’s richest poker tournament. Valentine was there for a different reason. He’d been hired by the Nevada Gaming Control Board to figure out how a seeing- impaired player could be cheating the tournament, and he was trying to help his son avenge the murder of a childhood friend. The fact that he’d solved neither case to his satisfaction had made for a long four days, and watching Rufus fleece some suckers had provided a welcome distraction.

“I want to see the tape,” declared a man known as the Greek.

The Greek had lost a half million bucks on the horse. He fancied himself a gambler, but had never swam with sharks as big as Rufus. The old cowboy sauntered over to where the Greek stood.

“Want to bet on the outcome again?” Rufus asked.

“Shut up!” the Greek roared.

Zack, the cameraman who’d filmed the event, rewound the tape, and the Greek and Rufus huddled behind him, staring at the camera’s tiny screen. Valentine wanted to see the race again as well, and stared over the two men’s shoulders.

Gloria Curtis brushed up beside him. In Vegas covering the poker tournament for a cable sports network, Gloria had filmed the race to be shown on her talk show. “Did you know Rufus was going to swindle the Greek like that?” she whispered to Valentine.

“Rufus didn’t swindle him,” he whispered back.

“He didn’t?”

“No. Rufus tricked him.”

“And how is that different?”

“Rufus told the Greek he could beat a horse in the hundred-yard dash. He never said the race would be run in a straight line.”

She chewed her lower lip, thinking it over. “But Rufus put a plastic cone on the fifty-yard line, so the horse had to stop, turn around, and run back.”

“It was a hundred-yard race, fair and square,” Valentine said.

She smiled at him with her eyes, which were the prettiest Valentine had seen in a long time. She’d interviewed him about the cheating at the tournament, and they’d immediately hit it off. He had no idea where the relationship was going, or even if it was going anywhere, but the ride so far was enjoyable.

“I know it looks like Rufus swindled the Greek,” he explained, “but the Greek went into the race with a gigantic edge, and he knew it.”

“An edge?”

“An advantage. The Greek’s advantage was that no human being can outrun a horse. The Greek had to know that Rufus would level the playing field to make the race competitive. And that’s exactly what Rufus did.”

“You still didn’t answer my question. Did you know what Rufus was up to?”

“No.” Valentine sensed Gloria didn’t quite believe him. Normally it wouldn’t have mattered, only she’d been in his thoughts these last few days. So he added, “Scout’s honor.”

She kissed him on the cheek. “Good.”



“Here we go,” said Zack.

The tiny screen on Zack’s camera showed Rufus and Greased Lightning about to start their race. The horse’s jockey stood in his saddle, clutching his crop. Valentine had been the starter, and the audio on the camera played back his voice intoning, “Take your marks . . . Get ready—go!” and the shot of the starter pistol.

Greased Lightning bolted, the jockey gripping the reins for dear life. The horse was out of control, and by the time the jockey managed to stop and turn around, he was ninety yards down the field. By then, Rufus had reached the cone, spun around, and was heading for the finish line.

“For the love of Christ,” Valentine now said under his breath.

“What’s wrong?” Gloria asked.

“Rufus tricked me.”

“But I didn’t think anyone could trick you,” Gloria said.

Valentine shook his head, realizing what Rufus had done. The sound of the starter pistol had put Greased Lightning into a frenzy, and prevented the jockey from trotting to the cone, turning around, and galloping back.

“It happens,” he said.

On the tiny screen, Rufus was huffing and puffing, his arms and legs working in unison, the horse coming up from behind like a runaway train. The ending was decided by inches, with Rufus throwing himself over the finish line as Greased Lightning thundered past. Zack froze the frame, and everyone leaned forward to see Rufus’s hand break the plane of the end zone before the horse’s nose did.

Rufus pounded the Greek on the back.

“I win,” Rufus said.



Professional gamblers did not take IOUs or personal checks. They dealt in cold hard cash, and the Greek had brought an enormous bag of money with him to the football field. As the Greek paid Rufus off, he looked at him pleadingly.

“I want another chance,” the Greek said.

There was weakness in his voice. Rufus glanced up from his counting.

“Want to win your money back, huh?”

The Greek nodded.

“I didn’t bust you, did I?”

The Greek shook his head. “I have more,” he said.

Rufus pulled the drawstring tight on the bag and gave it some thought. Sweat had started pouring off his body right after the race had ended. Valentine had tried to get him to drink water, but he’d refused.

“Well, I used to be pretty good at Ping-Pong,” Rufus said. “How about this. I’ll challenge anyone still playing in the tournament to a game of Ping-Pong, winner to reach twenty-one.”

“How much money are we talking about?” the Greek asked.

Rufus pointed at the sack of money lying on the grass. “That much. Interested?”

The Greek smiled like he’d found sunken treasure. “Yeah, I’m interested.”

“I’ve got one stipulation,” Rufus said. “I supply the paddles. Your man can choose either one. If he wants to switch during the match, he can. I just don’t want some guy showing up with one of those crazy rubber paddles that put so much spin on the ball that it’s impossible to hit back.”

“I’m agreeable to that,” the Greek said.

“Tell Rufus not to go through with this,” Gloria whispered in Valentine’s ear.

“Why not?”

“Takarama is still playing in the tournament. I profiled him for my show the other day. He still practices table tennis three hours a day.”

Shiego Takarama was a world table tennis champion who’d retired to play tournament poker. He was still in tremendous shape, and Valentine envisioned him wiping up the floor with Rufus. He went over to Rufus and pulled him aside.

“You don’t want to go through with this,”...

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3 von 3 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
The rise of Gerry 6. August 2007
Von G. Ware Cornell Jr. - Veröffentlicht auf Amazon.com
Format: Taschenbuch
Tony Valentine is getting a bit long in the tooth. He is over sixty now and can't bounce back from a beating with quite the speed of a younger guy.

So if you are James Swain and you understand that your cerebral hero must also be a man of action, you have to bring on someone to help Tony. And so we have Tony's son Gerry. His rough edges are sandpapered to a new smoothness. His flaws are prologue, but his present is blemish-free. tony doesn't worry anymore if Gerry's former profession-bookmaking-will get him killed. He worries if the people who want to kill Tony will kill Gerry for being just like Tony.

And this is the major flaw in this edition. The grifters are there, where they belong on the casino floors, and the scammers and the politician dance their symbiotic mating call. But it is Gerry not Tony who emerges at the end.

Just maybe, Swain is right. Tony needs someone to take the beatings. Or just maybe some editor has becided this for Swain. Time will tell if this is a good move. I am keeping my money on Tony though.
4 von 5 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
Split Pot 23. Dezember 2006
Von Gary Griffiths - Veröffentlicht auf Amazon.com
Format: Taschenbuch Verifizierter Kauf
Though there is a solid string of mostly 5-star reviews that contradict my opinion, I found James Swain a bit off his game in "Deadman's Bluff". This is by no means a bad novel; rather, Swain's "grift sense" is beginning to feel just a bit formulaic and a little tired.

As in all of Swain's novels, retired Atlantic City casino cop Tony Valentine is an unusual and refreshing hero. Swain's real-life experience and wry humor keep all of his stories moving through a banter of cheats and scams and the colorful characters who perpetrate them, building a convincing case for staying away from the casinos where Swain - and his surrogate Valentine - have spent most of their lives. Swain is no fan of legalized gambling and it's impact on Atlantic City - a passion he unloads without apology in this tale of mobsters and con men told in parallel lines between Las Vegas and Atlantic City. The venue is the world's largest poker tournament with a $10M prize that Valentine believes is being stolen "blind" by a player with strong connections to the mob. Teamed up with Rufus Steele, an old grifter whose clever cons are the heart of the story, Valentine cracks an elusive cheating scheme in Vegas while his once wayward son Gerry chases a connected caper in Atlantic City. But strip away the side stories and filler and you're left with bad guys are simply not that threatening and a thin plot leading to an implausible conclusion. In short, while not is best, a fun read nonetheless, definitely up to passing some time on long plane ride or a lazy afternoon.
2 von 2 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
Second part of two-parter 1. Februar 2008
Von lb136 - Veröffentlicht auf Amazon.com
Format: Taschenbuch Verifizierter Kauf
Another in the author's series of novels featuring Tony Valentine, who consults with casinos and law-enforcement about gambling scams and scammers.

In this tale, the second of two parts ("Deadman's Poker" being the first), Valentine remains in Las Vegas to discover how a blind poker player is scamming a poker tournament, which is being televised nationally by an ESPN-like cable sports network. Meanwhile his son Gerry goes to Atlantic City, where the scam originated, to find out what he can learn there.

Two of the characters from "Poker" reappear--Gloria, a female reporter for the network, who Valentine develops a relationship with, and a 72-year-old grifter named Rufus, who among other "wagers" bets that he can win a pingpong match against a champion.

There's a lot of tongue-in-cheek humor, and the side-stories about other scams are as always a treat. I didn't mind at all that it took the author 700 pages, total, to finish the story.
2 von 2 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
More flaws 20. August 2007
Von Judith M. Colbert - Veröffentlicht auf Amazon.com
Format: Taschenbuch
As a non-player, I didn't catch the playing mistakes, but there are other flaws -- Swain was trying to write too much to quickly, I think.

Note, on page 81, he has the doctor attending to Detective Davis saying, "The human body has a hundred quarts of blood. Eddie lost a tiny fraction of that. He'll be fine. Trust me."

I think it's more like 5.5 quarts.

Also, I think he changed the color of Gloria's eyes between "Deadman's Poker" and "Deadman's Bluff."

Then, there are typos not caught, etc. These are things I didn't notice in his earlier books. That doesn't mean they aren't there; just that I didn't catch them.

Having said that, I'm still looking forward to his next book, "Jackpot."
3 von 4 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
The Story Continues......and It is Terrific!! 13. Juli 2006
Von John R. Linnell - Veröffentlicht auf Amazon.com
Format: Taschenbuch Verifizierter Kauf
Deadman's Bluff closes the story begun in Deadman's Poker about the World Poker Showdown at least insofar as how the tournament turns out and how the fates of many...but not all...of the characters created therein are decided. You really do need to read the first book before wading into this one.

Gloria Curtis seems destined to appear for at least a while in any future book as she and Tony Valentine have personal issues to work out which will probably be very entertaining. One hopes that Rufus Steele will show up again if for no other reason than to show those of us who have had a sheltered upbringing how an aging gambler that smokes like a stove can beat a Kentucky Derby type race horse in a one hundred yard dash; how one can hyponotize a fly to land on one of many sugar cubes, etc., etc., with the result always being that Rufus announces..."I win."

Gerry Valentine's reformation from being a bookie who constantly disappointed his father to a valued partner in the enterprise, Grift Sense will continue. Mabel will continue to answer the phones and keep Tony's life in some kind of order and the scammers and grifters out there will continue to supply business for Tony to solve and James Swain to tell us about.

All of Swain's books are funny, well written, educational and above all, highly entertaining. You will enjoy the experience.
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